In the midst of the pandemic it has probably occurred to a number of us to take a step back and re-evaluate our situations. Complicating day-to-day life has provided a chance to actively look at our day to day routines in a way that we normally just autopilot our way through. We’ve seen the same people that claim that we all need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps whine at the notion that they might have to go a little while without a haircut. A country that can bail out multinational corporations but can’t be bothered to worry about the little guy. That same little guy that folks are demanding cut their hair without concern for the health of the barber. The barber serves a purpose. They are a transfixed figure that exists only in the context of cutting the individuals hair.
But that isn’t how life goes. We are all undeniably part of something bigger. That the barber has a building and a chair and people can find it and pass through is just one facet of the larger community. We all see the day to day as existing around us. We see from our center and look out. Cars on the road aren’t full of people with day to day lives and families they are just traffic. Everyone wants to be the priority because we think with our priorities first. It can’t be said for certain whether people are better off on their own or in a group. My opinion is that when we are able to work together toward common goals because we understand the situation and can make accurately informed choices that we reach greater heights than we are able to achieve through individualistic thinking. The buck stops with the individual, but the individual choice to work cooperatively is powerful.
Currently, that individual choice to work together is being spread through whispers and discordant bird song. Disaster provides us with an exposure of some of the facades. A boiler plate where we can reduce things to their core values. We’ve discovered that a remarkable number of us are completely unprepared for something like this. Some companies are bragging about their ability to scramble together a response and a react to the situation as it arises but moments like this require forethought and mitigation. People have been told for years that their work is unskilled labor that can be replaced by anyone able to walk in off the streets and are now being told that their jobs are essential to the function of society. If they are so essential then why are they making so much less? Shouldn’t essential status be increasing the demand and therefore the cost should rise. We should be providing the gratitude that capitalism allows in the form of compensation. Instead we give money to companies that lost their cash on stock buy backs. In response to people making this demand the company shows their hand when they let the organizers go. They aren’t interested in having the workers united under any flag other than their own.
So some of those workers might turn to other work. Find some roots in their community and decide that type of work might be more in line with their values. They find an entrepreneur that recently purchased a favorite roadside hot dog stand and is trying to start a new concept in a local dying mall. They also have two lawsuits open against them, (this next part is speculation because I’m not a lawyer and only kind of understand law dockets). One of which appears to be a partner suing for fraud and the second is a labor action by employees who are filed as managers to avoid paying overtime. It took me 15 minutes of googling to go from hopeful to dismayed about this individual doing business in town. There is a news article about him working with the mayor to distribute lunch to children who might have relied on the school for providing lunch. Publicly this individual may be viewed as a local hero for his efforts, but that heroism is hiding the darker elements of where his ambitions lead him. What do we do when the monsters can all hide their true nature so effectively? Is it even fair to call them monsters? The values we praise as a society are decided by a few and then declared to be arbitrary. We internalize these notions the same way that victims of bullying grow to think that the taunts are the truth. Are the viciously ambitious monsters or misguided? Or right? The world doesn’t seem to have an answer, but that seems to be the way of the world itself.
Timing can make or break a song. Timing is the difference between being stuck in traffic and ensnared by the accident. Timing happens on its own. We plan for so much in the understanding that the factors we have to account for become so numerous we couldn’t hope to reach what we thought was the final consideration without losing the first. You leave work one day to go to a concert. You leave early but not as early as you would have liked because earlier that morning you felt a little under the weather and therefore were slow getting to the building. You curse your hours younger self for being lazy and causing you such delays. The delays themselves continue to stack up and you begin to feel anxious and start apologizing to your wife who by this point in the relationship is very aware of your inability to be on time (which is ironically coupled to a reasonably sharp ability to guess the time). She is patient though and assures you that no one else is sweating it. You take a shower and get ready as the anticipation of the event starts to build against the flu that has been trying to beat you down all day. Chills and sweats and aches make lifting boxes that much harder, but the hot water and the extra steam from the cooler air help to relieve some of the congestion. Menthol and camphor paste with its minty scent and color tackle the rest on the way out of the bathroom. A quick run to the bank for parking money and then a dash across the street for dinner before we venture out onto the longest least exciting straight road ever engineered. A mix up at the bank causes another delay. Credit cards all look the same when you use the same bank and what do you mean my pin is wrong? Dash back outside to swap cards, withdrawal the requisite funds, acquire the aforementioned dinner and we find ourselves well on the Way.
Looking out the windows that you haven’t used in years you see sights from your childhood that have grown right along side you. Age paints the landscape more vibrantly as the clusters of warehouses and airports and towns start to come together in the complex systems they compose. The airport comes out further than you realized, but it makes sense in proximity to the large rail yard below the highway overpass. We change the radio and it seems to be aware of the extra passenger present. Odd things sometimes, but all ultimately just coincidence of various degrees. Songs and talks of the hubris of man to lay out these stone canals when water failed to keep up with our ambitions. As the meeting is crossed we are joined on the stone river by more colorful characters in twin-seat highway race cars and ponder if we saw a glimpse of the act or a fellow member of the crowd. These musings go forever unanswered, but enjoyably pass the time as we travel. The organism of societal movings is becoming whipped into a frenzy as we approach the local epicenter of activity. In this opportunity for human to shine as a cooperative species we are reminded of our selfish and distracted natures at every turn. The cell directions service warns us of approaching congestion which has managed to work its way out of your nose and into the system at large. In a city you realize that engineers don’t look at a landscape the same way. The highways ignore what we see as slopes and curve through the air like intricate flight paths to guide the swirling masses of people around and through the spaces where we congregate. A separate roadway exists behind a fence along the waterway and we jest that the locals must have a secret access point to avoid the mess we find ourselves in. A building in the distance displays a familiar scene of a flowing river and your mind wanders back to the radio’s playful sentience. The lights show fades from the building and for a moment you await it’s return. A new pattern is displayed and the coincidence is enjoyable. The highway drops into a low trench as you slowly round a bend and witness some incredible displays of assertion as the wielders of steel bricks swerve to cross the road in the deadliest version of frogger. Traffic slows to a crawl and flashing lights can be seen in the distance. A sign indicates that an accident has occurred. Not all of the players were able to maneuver safely through the flow. Glass and fluid remain to be ground into the pavement by the unyielding river of vehicles. Briefly you wonder how far back in time the accident happened and when you might have been crossing the path of that collision if you had been more on time.
Parking in a city designed for horses is an adventure in alertness. A location is selected based on convenience and we enter the car dungeon through a bizarrely reminiscent concrete ramp. This is likely not the first time you’ve ever parked in this garage and you dismiss the thought. Signs and arrows lead us astray but a hipster with a hybrid advises us to be more perceptive and check the middles rather than the edge. This labyrinth provides a transformative mindset. You enter and in losing your car decide to loosen up and embrace a more present aesthetic. Bicycles and cars compete for space with the former slipping into equal balance. She calls you a nerd and you agree. Shown all the sights to see and a metal frame is what catches your eye, she’s not wrong. The energy and the crowd along the street are refreshing after so many walks along comparatively dim and abandoned sidewalks. The people are as varied as the storefronts and though there was tension most of it seemed positive. Seekers of joys and of love laughed amongst themselves and for a moment it seems like the area has forgotten the surrounding storms building around the world. This amnesia is comforting for a while.
We arrive at the venue and you discover another small joy as she has a keychain confiscated for the safety of the other attendees. A silly pride warms a small part of your chest as you laugh and await her by the door. Light ribbings about our mutual bad influence distract us from the building nerves in the changed scenery. We find a corner and proceed toward a flight of stairs. Lead astray by a desire to escape the crowd we originally sought to join. Guided by a sweet voice to an overpriced can and a woman could could provide us with exclusively roped off stools or chairs we eventually seek an exit. Forces of odor and a ginger with something on his mind drive us toward the front of the show. The first act of hypnosis is completed and the crowd buzzes with excitement and what can be assumed to be various intoxicants. The floor grabs as your feet and attempts to trap you here for ever. The main act prepares their stage. A father and son join our space and we rearrange to accomodate the shorter. Comfort is found in relatable conversation and a tingle works its way through you. The King of Sludge arranges a tall sleek metal stand and we are left in wonder as to its function. Jazz musicians always dress so sleek. As with everything else, all convention seems to be cast aside and the end result remains complementary and pleasing.
We are told later that the first portion of the performance is a gift. We are all drawn in by the trios ability to dance along it and bring us along with them. The lights covering their armor flash in rhythm to the sound. To close one’s eyes is to miss the flash but it remains easier to follow without the distraction. We are told we are all just one thing in a bigger thing. All just one part, our rhythms following the flow cast out by their signal. A local solar system guided by the gravity of the bass and the balanced chaos of the horns. The frequency rises and falls and then breaks to silence. We exit into a frozen night, now colder than before in our sweat soaked outfits as the heat and people swarm away from the scene. Our evening folds itself up neatly into the next adventure.
Cut where the knife goes through, forcing it will dull the blade. Just go with it.